Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo, the head of the National Covid-19 Task Force. (Photo Courtesy of Covid-19 Task Force)

We Can't Afford to Lose More Doctors, Says Covid-19 Task Force Chief


MAY 10, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia’s coronavirus-related deaths include at least 26 doctors, most of them have treated patients with the disease, the head of the National Covid-19 Task Force has said.

“Doctors are our heroes in this outbreak, but many of them have fallen victim to it,” Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo said in an interview with Beritasatu TV aired on Friday night.

“The task force has learned that at least 26 doctors and 12 nurses have died,” he said in the TV’s Interview with Claudius Boekan program.

He said at the height of the pandemic, people should not come to hospitals except for emergency treatment to avoid adding burden to medical workers.

“Doctors stand in the last line of defense in this fight. We cannot let people flood hospitals, otherwise doctors will be exhausted due to shorter rotation that gives them little time to rest,” Doni said.

He indicated that Indonesia with a population of more than 272 million has a very low score in the density of physicians, primarily when it comes to specialist doctors.

“We have around 34,800 specialist doctors and only 1,970 of them are pulmonologists. If any of them falls, it will be a massive loss to us,” Doni said.

“We don’t want our doctors to get infected, it should never happen again.”

However, Doni said hospital loads during the coronavirus outbreak have been greatly reduced in the past several weeks as more and more patients are recovering, in a stark contrast to the wake of the pandemic when the health system was overwhelmed. 

Indonesia has 13,645 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Saturday, including 959 deaths and 2,607 patients who have recovered from the respiratory disease.

“It was really hard to get hospital beds during the first two weeks since [the national emergency] was announced on March 13,” Doni recalled.

“Going into the fourth week, demands for hospital beds began to decline and by the seventh week, nobody came to me asking help for hospital admissions,” he said.

The government has set up a makeshift Covid-19 hospital at the athletes’ village in Central Jakarta to accommodate hundreds of patients with moderate and mild symptoms. 

The task force claimed earlier that more than 800 hospitals across the country are capable of handling Covid-19 patients.

“The director general of health services has told me that hospital occupancy rate stood at 73 percent nationwide. Jakarta Governor Anies (Baswedan) also said in a video conference with us that only 53 percent of beds in municipally-owned hospitals were occupied, as a lot of patients have recovered,” Doni said.

“The news comes as a great relief to us,” he said.